Based on a Caucasus Mountains legend that tells of the repeated efforts of the Georgian people to construct a fortress against invaders. The fortress continues to collapse until a fortune-teller recalls a prophecy: a handsome young man must be walled inside alive in order for the building to stand.
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If you try to view it as a conventional film it might be difficult to grasp it. If you instead watch it as an allegorical tale narrated with actors it is a truly mesmerizing piece, almost trance inducing with great visuals. Some might see it is an orientalist cash-grab, but for me it felt like an homage. BUT a real shame on MUBI for showing this dubbed, and horribly dubbed at that.
Although not as dazzling or spellbinding as Sayat Nova, his finest masterpiece IMHO; the costumes, the props, the gorgeous sets, and also the story, are still AH-MA-ZING! It's like a trip to a cultural museum once again, a Georgian cultural museum it is.
Parajanov and co. evolved toward a refined and unique aesthetic, prizing still cameras and curiously baroque mise-en-scène. The effect is of a conjuring. There is a sense of black magic, of occult or pagan undertaking. THE LEGEND OF THE SURAM FORTRESS uses myth and folk history as a vehicle serving these ends. These films present an opulent bed of riches. Deliciously hallucinatory stuff!
Tableaux/mise-en-scene symbolically loaded as (Persian renaissance) tarot cards. A fairy tale; a fever dream; the saturated richness of the social imaginary. Insistently disrupts signifiers of identification; effects a suspension of disbelief right where disbelief was blocking access to the apprehension of magic; rails against simplification… of fact vs fiction; of cultures; of ages; of the production of meaning. 4.5